Eight people died and about two dozen were seriously injured when a tour bus collided with a tow truck along National Road 5 in Battambang province’s Sangke district on Saturday.
Sat Kim San, the provincial traffic police chief, said eight people had died and 25 others were injured when the bus full of passengers traveling from Phnom Penh to Battambang City swerved into the wrong lane and crashed into an oncoming tow truck at about 3:30 p.m.
Mr. Kim San said the dead included the two tour bus drivers for the P.S Transportation Company and the tow truck driver, whose assistant survived.
“Our initial investigation found that the bus was speeding and the driver fell asleep at the time, and when he woke up, the bus was already in the opposite lane,” he said.
“He tried to brake, which led to him crashing into the heavy tow truck while on the opposite side of the road,” he added.
Mr. Kim San said a witness to the crash blamed a flat tire. However, officials investigating the scene in Kompong Prieng commune found no problems with the bus’ tires.
“We found the black tire marks on the road about 30 meters before the bus crashed, which means the bus driver tried to brake,” he said, adding that the bus driver was at fault and that the company must be held liable.
Victims were sent to four different hospitals—including the provincial and district referral hospitals and private clinics—due to the lack of capacity at each, Mr. Kim San said.
Sor Vicheat, manager of the P.S Transportation Company, said their insurance company, People & Partners, would take financial responsibility for the dead and injured victims.
Identifying one of the drivers as Sam Run, 25, and the other one only as Khen, 29, Mr. Vicheat said the scale of the accident was unprecedented in the area.
“It is a very bad traffic accident involving with a bus in my province—we’ve never seen anything like this before,” he said.
Mr. Vicheat denied claims from police that the driver had fallen asleep at the wheel and insisted that the bus was in excellent mechanical condition.
“We reject that our driver was sleepy, because the bus left Phnom Penh in the morning, and before the incident he had also taken two days off,” he said, adding that he was not sure if his driver was speeding, because “I was not in the bus.”
Mr. Vicheat said the bus had been transporting 45 people, including the drivers, but that some passengers had disembarked along the way.
“We are so sorry for this incident because of our drivers’ deaths, as well as our passengers’ deaths and injuries, too,” he said.